NASHVILLE, Tenn. – And now for something a little bit different: Kenny Chesney and Jonathan Demme are working together.
Country music’s king of the road and the Academy Award-winning director will collaborate on the next installment of the “American Express Unstaged” music series on June 20.
“I think it’s a unique situation for both of us because odds are we never would have worked together without this thing, you know?” Chesney said. “And I think it’s a good thing. I love meeting and working with people who can push me and inspire me creatively in a different way. And I think that all creative people look for inspiration. That’s the thing I’m looking forward to the most about this, because it is left of centre and it is combining two worlds.”
Demme, whose credits include “The Silence of the Lambs” and Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” concert film, will direct the livestream of the 75-minute performance from the beach in Wildwood, N.J. Chesney and the credit card company have given 20,000 fans free tickets to the seaside show, which will be framed by a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel in a boardwalk setting.
“I love doing shows where I can smell the sea, that’s for sure,” Chesney said Monday in a phone interview.
Fans at home can watch live and repeats for 12 hours after on YouTube. The show also can be seen on VEVO’s mobile apps. It’s the 10th “Unstaged” event following pairings like Monday’s Usher-Hamish Hamilton collaboration in London or last month’s Jack White-Gary Oldman installment.
The livestream concert is just one of several large-scale events Chesney has scheduled for next week. He clicked off items on the itinerary one after the other: His new album “Welcome to the Fishbowl” is out Tuesday, and he tapes the NBC Fourth of July special that evening, then Wednesday in Wildwood, Thursday on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” up early Friday for the “Today” show, a special homecoming concert for the “Brothers of the Sun” stadium tour with Tim McGraw in Nashville on Saturday, followed by another show Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
Chesney, his voice raspy from two shows over the weekend, laughed at the full-tilt boogie of his schedule.
“It’s a hell of a week, man, but you know what? I thrive on it. I love it,” Chesney said. “I love it, all that stuff is happening in my life. I mean, that’s what you dream about.”
Chesney’s never released an album and put on a tour at the same time. In an interview in Nashville earlier this spring, he talked about all the moving parts of his life and the new album, his 13th.
He feels the Buddy Cannon-produced “Fishbowl” is in the same spirit as “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” the much-lauded 2010 album Chesney used to chart new territory in his recording career as he moved into his 40s. The title cut is a look at today’s celebrity-obsessed culture. He explores romantic territory on several songs, including the new single “Come Over.” And the album also includes his “Feel Like a Rock Star” collaboration with McGraw.
Like “Whiskey” and its surprise hit “You and Tequila,” featuring Grace Potter, there’s a melancholy feel that runs through the album on songs like “El Cerrito Place” and “Always Gonna Be You.”
“I’m very in touch with that emotion,” Chesney said. “I think there is a thread on this album. There is searching, there is a longing. … Several key songs have that in it. And I think when you’re as busy as I am and you’ve given your whole life to one thing basically, there’s a constant search for balance. I think when people hear this album they’re going to hear that thread.”
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